The Grandmother Plot is a warm and delightful mystery featuring Freddy, a rather hapless glass artist who does lampwork, not glassblowing, and he surely wants you to know the difference. He is an artisan, but like many of his kind, he makes ends meet making bongs for pot-smokers. The story opens with Freddy heading off to visit his grandmother in the memory care home. He sees an enforcer for a man who has asked him to launder money through his sales at craft fairs. He really does not want to do this.
Freddy is a sweet guy even if he doesn’t look like a success on paper. He’s living in his grandmother’s house without a steady job, supporting himself by selling glass beads and paraphernalia. No girlfriend, no job, no prospects. But Freddy is all heart and he visits his grandmother several times a week even though he often thinks he is someone else. He is full of empathy and compassion for the other patients, as well, though watching people lose themselves to Alzheimer’s seems horrific to him.
But one of the residents was murdered and the police seem willing to suspect everyone, even Freddy’s grandmother and then, even Freddy. Luckily, Freddy has a partner in crime-solving, Mrs. Maples, whom he calls Mapes. She is as intrepid as Miss Marple, but not quite so quick, though she can run circles around the amiable, but thick, Freddy.
Caroline B. Cooney excels at creating characters you cannot help but love in cozy mysteries that are rich with humanity. It would be easy to miss that The Grandmother Plot breaks the first rule of The Detection Club’s Ten Commandments. (Don’t click if you hate spoilers.) Aside from that, though, the book is full of possible suspects with so many motives you will struggle to guess what is going on.
Cooney is creating a niche market in senior cozies with The Grandmother Plot and Before She Was Helen. Her compassion and writing about the people living, working, and visiting at a memory care home is manifest. I think many people will find themselves reflected in these pages.